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March 18, 2007

Important commentary on criminal history and structured sentencing

Over at the always fascinating Corrections Sentencing, the always insightful Michael Connelly has this long post on "Criminal History, Disparity, and Sentencing Guidelines."   The full post is a must-read for any serious student of structured sentencing; here is a small taste:

Most guidelines systems rely heavily if not totally on criminal history as the "offender score" in their grid systems and to apply enhancers and mandatory minimums.  I've worked for over a dozen years now with criminal history records, I've seen how they’re developed, and I think there is, even today, too much wrong with the collection and reporting to justify the faith that guidelines put in them.

I am intrigued by this critique of undue reliance on criminal history in part because I surmise that the Supreme Court is deeply engaged in criminal history issues.  The Court continues to grant cert on a number of criminal history enhancement cases, and it is taking a very long time to decided James, the Armed Career Criminal Act case argued more than four months ago.

March 18, 2007 at 07:39 AM | Permalink


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the best comment I have heard about the flaws of a structured sentencing grid of mandatory minimums and maximums is from the Raleigh, North Carolina District Attorney who said, "the sentencing grid is, at the same time, too simplistic and too complicated."


Posted by: bruce cunningham | Mar 18, 2007 7:43:34 AM

What of challenges to sentences (not sentencing schemes) based on racial disparities? Are the variables too complex and too many to settle on some easily applicable remedy? Is the only remedy some sort of sentencing guideline?

Posted by: Gideon | Mar 18, 2007 6:01:17 PM

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